Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/190

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170
chap.
LIFE OF OCTAVIA HILL

allowed me to leave early. When I reached home thro' long damp-aired gas-lighted windy streets, all looked bright and warm. Gertrude had arrived bringing presents, one a pair of quaint, delightful, old silver bracelets from an old lady, a friend of grandpapa's, whom I had never seen, but who has heard of me. When I entered the room I was amazed. It was brightly lighted, and decorated with ivy a friend had sent ; another dear old lady had herself gathered me the last roses and lauristinus, myrtle leaves and chrysanthemums from her garden. One long table was set for tea, but the other was covered with presents. Mary Harris had sent me the "Idylls" and the "Two Paths." One dear lady, whom I have never seen but often written to (Mrs. Robins), had sent eleven volumes of poems Scott (who will be very valuable to me) and Crabbe whom I don't yet know. I tell you of the books, because they are such very precious things to possess. . . . Miss Rogers read us the loveliest Arab story. Gertrude, Minnie, and I sang ; and all my best available friends were here, and were delighted to make one another's acquaintance. I was proudly delighted with them all, and most humbly delighted by all their kindness which I felt I had so very little deserved. It was almost too much to bear. Once or twice I dwelt thankfully on the thought that, except Mr. Maurice, who was ill, I had seen or heard from everyone I cared for specially, except Ruskin. When nearly everyone had left, Gertrude rushed upstairs, handed me a parcel saying, "Someone thinks it's from Mr. Ruskin." "No," I said quietly, looking at the unformed handwriting. "Then what made the servant say so?" I sat down on the stairs and tore it open. It was! I enclose his letter, which specially pleased me, for its sympathy with